When Traveling With Kids, Bring These!

Summer is here! With more consistently nice weather and school being out, summer is the time for more adventuring as a family. It might be quick day trips to a nearby town, a weekend away, or a longer trip. There is anticipation and excitement looking forward to an upcoming vacation, but also the chaos and worry of figuring out what to pack, especially when it comes to our kids! Here is a list of some tried and true items to always add to your packing list. When traveling with kids, bring these:

Packing Cubes

Map with two child hands holding a car and an airplane.

Designed to help organize and compress clothing, packing cubes are one of the most important items when traveling with children. For longer trips, packing cubes can be great for separating outfits by day or keeping all items for one child together. For shorter adventures, they are great to pack items like sunscreen and bug spray or store an extra change of clothes for emergencies. Switching to packing cubes has completely revolutionized the way my children’s clothing and extra items get packed. Each of my children has a set of packing cubes in different sizes, one color per child. By using packing cubes, I am more organized and less frantic! 

A few examples of great packing cube choices can be found here: Trip Savvy Best Packing Cubes

“Go” Bags

When traveling, it is essential to bring along things to keep your children busy and engaged. In our house, each of our children has a small canvas bag with handles that gets stuffed with many items to bring some joy to a car ride. We call them “Go” Bags. Inside the bags are things like coloring books with crayons, activity books with mazes, sudokus, or puzzles, favorite or new books, a couple of small toys, and travel games. We do not put items in there that have a lot of pieces, are easily breakable, or can make big messes. Things in the “Go” Bags are special and don’t get played with much unless we are traveling. It keeps these games and toys new and fresh. There are many versions of games that come in magnetic versions perfect for the car. One of our best purchases was to buy mini versions of games like “Simon” and “Bop It!” 

Oversized Picnic Blanket

children on a picnic blanket

Whether your family is going to a playground for a few hours or a longer vacation, food and snacks are always on the menu when traveling with kids! To help make your picnic or snack spread happen wherever the road takes you, always pack an oversized picnic blanket. Look for blankets that are waterproof, have a bit of padding for comfort, and fold up small and easily. Some even have weighted pockets on the edges so they will stay flat. As a bonus, the picnic blanket is incredibly versatile. Not only could it be used to gather and eat, but also as a place to nap, read a good book, or cozy up to watch shooting stars. 

Clean Up Essentials

Several years ago, I took my children to a playground to meet some other moms and kids. While playing tag, my oldest son fell and got an epic bloody nose. I was unprepared for it! Another mom ran to her car and brought a roll of paper towel and it saved the day. When I thanked her profusely, she said, “I learned the hard way… always travel with paper towel!” Genius. 

Let’s be honest, when traveling with kids there are a lot of things that can go awry. There could be a bloody nose on the playground, a bathroom accident, spills from any kind of food or drink, or a bout of car sickness. We have to be prepared for anything! No matter how long your adventure might be, pack these essentials every time: paper towel (my new favorite), wipes, bandaids, extra diapers or underwear, and plastic bags. Those few things will get you through!  

This is a great list of essentials to keep in the car: Your Modern Family 10 Must Haves to Keep in Your Car Especially if you Have Kids

Noise Machine 

baby sleeping

When traveling, your children’s sleep is so important. In order to have the energy to adventure, sightsee, play, skip a nap or two, and maybe stay up a little later than usual, the sleep our kids do get has to be great! Being in an unfamiliar place can make sleep tricky. Bringing a noise machine can mask noises at a hotel, loud neighbors at an Airbnb, or new animal noises. Using a noise machine completely transformed our family travel. It’s familiar to my children and drowns out unwanted noise. Whether it’s an app on my phone or a physical noise machine, I’ll never travel without it. 

Adventuring as a family creates memories that will last a lifetime. Traveling with kids is difficult, but worth it. Packing these items will help save your organization and sanity while helping keep your children busy, clean, and well rested. 

Looking for more information about traveling with your family? Check these out!

Kristin Hundt
Kristin Hundt is a fervent teacher, learner, and global citizen. Spending more than twelve years as a middle school teacher, she is currently taking a leave from the classroom to explore her passions and stay at home with her children. She is a world-traveler in training, writer, music and photography enthusiast, and semi-professional book pusher. Kristin loves nothing more than to go on 'adventures' with her husband and four young boys learning about and serving the world around them.


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